Kremer’s Corner: More and more states want voters to stay home

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Kremer’s Corner:  More and more states want voters to stay home

Recently, I had an opportunity to spend a few days in Florida, just to get away from the miserable New York weather.

I know that Florida and New York are far away geographically, but once you go down South you realize that we New Yorkers live in a bubble and our differences with many other states are sharp and wide. This is especially so in the case of how we exercise our right to vote.

By most standards, New York’s voting procedures are quite liberal. We allow absentee voting, have legalized early voting and give the voters good candidate and polling information. Our voting is supervised by boards of election that try very hard to make sure that elections are run fairly and honestly.

When you leave New York for states such as, Arizona, Florida, Texas or Georgia, you learn that their procedures are dedicated to suppressing the vote or at the very least make it very hard to cast your ballot.

Within hours of my arrival in Florida, I watched the television reports about a 38-yeard-old woman from Miami who tried to vote absentee three times before her ballot was accepted.

On her first try, the election officials challenged her vote on the ground that her driver’s license numbers were incorrect. The decision was totally wrong. The second rejection was over her listing of the last four digits of her Social Security number, which they claimed, was a mistake.

Determined to vote she went personally to the local board of elections, where she demanded that her paperwork be accepted.

This is one incident that will be repeated frequently between now and November when Floridians go to the polls.

Last May, the Florida state legislature passed a comprehensive voting law whose clear aim was to take away procedures that had been put in place because of the COVID pandemic.

One of the more convenient methods available to Florida voters was putting your ballot into a curbside drop box. In 2020, the state established drop boxes and large numbers of voters took advantage of this great convenience.

The new law drastically cut the number of drop boxes and cut the hours that voters could use them. To make it tougher the state reduced the number of days such boxes could be available and added a requirement that there had to be a monitor watching the boxes.

To curb the use of absentee voting, the state imposed many new requirements, which will not only keep Democrats from voting but will be a major burden for rural voters.

This change was no accident. In the 2016 and 2018 elections, nearly one third of the state’s voters cast ballots through the mail. In both years, more Republicans than Democrats voted by mail.

In 2020, 2.1 million Democrats voted by mail compared to 1.4 million Republicans. If a voter has previously given their proof of identity to the polling place that should not have to be required to put sensitive information in the mail.

One of the more serious changes in the law was the ban on donations to election agencies.

Many non-government agencies send donations to boards of election to encourage them to distribute pamphlets describing all of the candidates and reminding voters where their polling district is located.

Many election boards advertise voter information, which is most helpful to senior citizens and handicapped persons. But Florida officials view these programs as unimportant and a vehicle to get voters to turn out on Election Day and that is threatening to them.

Last July, the Georgia legislature passed a comprehensive bill that created 16 new restrictions on voting including taking away the power of the Secretary of State and placing it in the hands of state legislators. T

hey expanded voting hours in small counties and reduced the voting time in the more populous ones. To further discourage voting they reduced the number of drop boxes from 94 statewide to 23. Many of the boxes will now be kept in buildings that have restricted hours.

It is the same story in Texas and Arizona, where similar restrictions have been put in place.

So while it may be easy to cast a ballot in New York, it is not the case elsewhere in America, where elected officials would prefer you to stay home and skip participating on Election Day.

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